Innovation That Matters

Surgeons | Photo source Luis Melendez on Unsplash

US scientists replace scalpels with electrical currents during surgery

Health & Wellbeing

The technique is quicker and far less painful than traditional surgery and could replace some types of invasive medical procedures

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Spotted: A team of scientists in California has discovered a way to use electrical currents, instead of scalpels, in some types of surgery. The process could significantly reduce recovery time from certain procedures and eliminate painful scarring.

The technique only takes minutes and does not require a single incision. Instead, electrical currents and 3D-printed molds are used to reshape cartilage. The process works because cartilage is made up of proteins and neurons that react to the electrical current. That reaction causes the cartilage to become more malleable, according to Michael Hill, Ph.D., a leading member of the team that made the discovery. Doctors can bend the cartilage into the desired shape using 3D-printed molds.

So far, the team has only tested the practice on a rabbit: they were able to bend its ear. But in the future, it is believed it could be used for surgeries like nose operations and stiff joints. Eventually it could be adapted to use in medical procedures that do not involve cartilage, like vision correction. The team is currently looking into licensing options for the technique and studying other applications.

Email: @AmerChemSociety



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